I can't think of a possible explanation, there's no volcanic activity in the area, and it gets destroyed every time a hurricane passes through. How did it get there?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Have you had a chance to read the Wikipedia article on barrier islands? $\endgroup$
    – njuffa
    Jan 29, 2021 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ That answered my question, thanks. $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2021 at 19:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @njuffa Maybe you could turn this into a short answer for future readers? $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2021 at 13:09

1 Answer 1


The outer banks are, literally, a textbook example of what are known as Barrier Islands. They are thought to be formed through interactions between sediment undergoing longshore drift, coastal currents and seabed irregularities, but to spite a number of theories being put forward since the 19th Century we really don't understand their formation.

We do know that their ongoing behaviour makes them analogous to underwater sand dune systems in that:

  1. the material in them is constantly on the move.
  2. their form is controlled by the prevailing conditions.
  3. they offer a degree of protection to the landscape on their inland side. and
  4. they are vulnerable to drastic alteration during extreme events such as storms or tsunamis.
  • $\begingroup$ Sea level rise after the last glaciation probably has a lot to do with it. $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Feb 5, 2021 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Spencer Maybe, eolian processes during the last glacial maximum may also have contributed. $\endgroup$
    – Ash
    Aug 31, 2021 at 3:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.